Linger in Pain

Pain is the essential element of the compelling reason to move forward in the sales process. However, pain exists blow the surface. Too many salespeople are satisfied with finding out what the prospect wants or needs and then moving on. Wants and needs are not pain. The pain exists in the answer to the question why they want it, or why they need it. The real answers to those questions take longer to uncover and if you move on after only discovering the wants or needs you will not have uncovered the actual compelling reason to buy. The result of that will become clear when the deal stalls and you can’t close it. Over time your pipeline becomes bloated with unqualified and uncloseable deals, your forecasts become unreliable and you waste a lot of time chasing dollars that never materialize. The solution is to linger in the pain step of the sales process until you are sure there is either a compelling reason to buy or are convinced there is not now a compelling reason and will never be one so you can close the file and move on.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Have a Sales Process

Chef’s have a process to make delicious meals. They use it every time. Engineers have a design process. They use it every time. Airline pilots have a system for pre-flight checklist. They use every time or people may die. Salespeople, on the other hand, most often wing it on sales calls. A sales process does not have to be as rigid as a pre-flight check list, but it needs to be a flexible milestone centric staged set of steps you go thru on every sales call. I laugh when a salesperson tells me “I used the selling process on this call”. I have to wonder why she picked this call to use it on and why not others? It would be like combat fighter pilot saying, “I think I will take my parachute on this mission.” Top salespeople have a sales process and they use it on every call. At all times they know where they are in the sales process whether it is a one call close situation or a long cycle complex sale. If you don’t have a selling process call me and I will give you access to my online training class free for two weeks and you can learn one. If you have one. Use it … especially if I taught it to you.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Collect Data

Most salespeople have an aversion to collecting data about their sales performance. Hence, analyzing progress they are making is difficult at best. Progress assessments become subjective. “Joe seems to be doing better as far as I can see” is a typical assessment a sales manager would make in the absence of any data on closing rates. Without data there is no way to see trends or document successes that don’t result in a signed contract. I am not suggesting that you collect reams of data. Only a few select indicators of performance. If you knew that you had talked to an average of 5 more people per week over the last quarter than you had in the previous two years, that would tell you something. If, on the other hand, your number of appointments booked decreased by 2 per week over that same period that would be a cause for concern and further investigation as to why. You don’t have to collect much data. Companies usually have ways to track deals once they hit the pipeline. So, there is plenty of data from that point on. But you should collect some data on how many calls you make, how many people you talk to, how many appointments you book and how many qualified opportunities you turn up. You should do this week by week, month by month and year by year. Plot the data and look for trends. Look for changes. You don’t need any fancy math to analyze the data. But you will find that data like this can be an invaluable diagnostic tool and as a bonus it can be an early warning of an impending slump in sales.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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You don’t have to quote

Salespeople waste a lot of time quoting to prospects who have not earned the right to have a quote. Just because they ask you to quote does not mean that you have to quote. The prospect must qualify to get one. They qualify by explaining to you in some detail the compelling reason they have for buying your product. They must have told you they have the money and you discussed the amount in some detail. Then they must play some part in the decision process, preferably in decision making capacity of some sort. And lastly they must have agreed to make a decision upon delivery of the quote or very soon thereafter. Sometimes the easiest way to get a salesperson out of their office and end the sales call is to ask for a quote. If that happens to you it is perfectly ok to say “no” (politely). Most of the time you will say something like “I would be more than happy to, but I just have a few more questions”. If you spend more time qualifying (and disqualifying) you will spend less time writing quotes leaving more time for more lucrative or leisure activities … your choice.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Lead the Conversation

You know how to lead a conversation, but do you do it on a sales call? Most people don’t. They come to the meeting concentrating on what they want to say and how to say it. What they should be concentrating on is the prospect’s situation, their pain their budget and other steps in the sales process. So, for example, they should “lead” the conversation to a discussion of the prospect’s pain. If we know that pain is typically found in the shipping department, then they should lead the conversation there. You lead the conversation by asking questions. You can get the prospect moving in the right direction by answering their questions in a way that inserts another topic into the conversation. We have all done it. So we all have the skill. However, all too often, salespeople forget to use this skill. They focus instead on themselves and their product or service. So, use the skill you already have. When you do, the prospect will more easily accept what you eventually have to say, and they will never feel like they were sold to, because it felt to them like they were in control the whole time.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Make the prospect think

Great sales questions make the prospect think. Good questions merely get you a lot of information. Getting information is important and must be done to make a sale. However, just understanding the situation and the pain the prospect is in, is many times not enough. You must differentiate yourself from the competition. Asking questions that make the prospect think is a great way to do that. Some examples might be “Why did you not go down this alternate path?” or “Why does that keep happening when clearly you have directed otherwise?”. The first question shows that you may have some knowledge of the situation. Maybe the prospect has an answer. But maybe the question stops him in his tracks as he stops to consider that alternative that maybe he hadn’t thought of. Having the prospect think can never hurt you. It starts the conversation down a different path than they may have had with a competitor. They see you differently and hopefully they see you as someone who can help them. The second question can have a similar effect, or it can shine a light on the real pain and really cause the prospect to get emotional. Good questions get you information and are important. Great questions make the prospect think and can be a game changer.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Ask for the outcome the prospect is looking for

Most salespeople focus first on what the prospect needs. But a quicker way to pain after you understand the current situation is to ask what outcome the prospect is looking for. They may not know how to get to the outcome, but they certainly know what outcome they would like to have or hope that they could have. The obvious next question is “why is that important” or “Why did you choose that instead of this” or something like that. The answer will inevitably lead you down a path to the pain the prospect is having. The advantage of this approach is also that it prevents you from focusing on your product or service too soon. It is as simple as that.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Don’t Skip Steps

Success and familiarity breed complacency. And when complacency sets in you tend to fall back into old habits or develop new bad habits. One of those is the tendency to skip steps in the sales process. Sometimes complacency causes you to get lazy and not ask follow-up questions or to assume you know what the prospect means. You might also forget to ask critical questions because you acquire a false sense of security. You win most of the business with this customer “so I’ll just ask a few questions, mail in the quote and collect the commission” … or so you think. Familiarity gives you an advantage. You know how the customer thinks. You have a history. You have a sense of what they will spend. You know the decision process. You know what they have done in the past. They will share more information with you. You have an advantage over the competition. Don’t squander it by being lazy and skipping steps.
Likewise, success can lull you into a feeling of “I got this”. “Those questions are for amateurs. I’m a pro. I know what needs to be done.” That thought process will send you right back down to the bottom where you came from if you are not careful. Airline pilots who have thousands of flights under their belts still go thru every step of the pre-flight checklist … every time … every flight … they don’t skip anything … EVER. Be like the pilot touch all the bases. Do all the steps every time … every sales call.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Work Hard

Contrary to the popular saying, success is not about working smart. It is about working hard on the right stuff. It is your self-limiting beliefs and other hidden weaknesses that make selling so tough. If you have too much need for approval, for example, then you will find asking hard questions to be exhausting and you will avoid doing it. What you consider to be a hard question will depend on what other self-limiting beliefs you have. For example, if you are uncomfortable talking about money and you also have need for approval then the very thought of asking for the client’s budget is stressful. If your sales manager is demanding that you come back from the sales call with the budget, then you will dread going to the meeting. You will waste emotional energy and you will lower your chances of getting the information you need. Eliminating your excessive need for approval is not easy. It requires a commitment to the task, and it requires emotional energy expended over a significant period of time to risk rejection, get rejected (or not) and then deal with the emotional consequences. However, if you put the emotional energy into overcoming this issue then selling, suddenly (and I do mean suddenly) asking tough questions becomes much easier. In fact, they will require no emotional energy at all. You will not dread conversations. You will not obsess about what prospects might or might say and you will be more relaxed on the sales call. This will free up energy to do other things and your success and satisfaction with your sales career will skyrocket. The tricky part is to identify the hidden weakness causing you the stress. The hard part is working through the “trauma” of doing what must be done to overcome the weakness. But, putting in the emotional work to discover and overcome the self-limiting beliefs is the smart thing to do.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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How to communicate

Connecting with prospects on follow-up is becoming harder and harder. In the past we only had one ore two ways to communicate. You either called the prospect or visited them in person. There was no email. Twitter was a figment of Mark Zuckerberg’ imagination. There was no video chat, no text messages, InMail or instant message. The world was a simpler place. Most everyone had a “secretary” who knew where your prospect was at all times and could tell you when the best time was to reach them. Now it is easier for the prospect to hide behind voice mail which did not involve the secretary lying about you being in a meeting. They can avoid your call because their phone tells them it is you calling. To make matters worse they are a moving target since they can be working from anywhere with there cell phone and fewer and fewer people have administrative assistance that keep track of them. In this environment following up with a prospect can be a nightmare. But there is a way out. The first time you talk to the prospect, all you have to do is ask them how they want you to communicate with them. It is that simple. Some people prefer text messages some prefer that you call their cell some prefer email. Ask them and then get an understanding as to when and how you should follow up. The question that I like is “Is there any trick to getting a hold of you?” When you ask that question directly they will give you the secret formula to getting them on the phone.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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